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Dismantling barriers to education in Oregon

Dismantling barriers to education in Oregon

Feb. 4, 2022 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Faculty from Eastern Oregon University’s College of Education, Jerred Jolin, Tawnya Lubbes, and Karyn Gomez, worked alongside EOU English and Writing Professor Jennifer Slinkard to examine participant experiences in state-funded projects to diversify Oregon’s teacher workforce.

The interdisciplinary team, whose work was funded by the Educator Advancement Council (EAC), will share its findings at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10 as part of EOU’s Colloquium series. 

“In a nutshell, the goal of the EAC is to increase the cultural and linguistic diversity of Oregon’s teacher workforce and to promote more culturally-affirming classroom practices and environments,” Jolin said. 

Jolin led the project and worked with his team to evaluate participant experiences in two different programs. The first focused on the experiences of in-service teachers who took online antiracism courses through Oregon’s public universities. 

“The goal of these courses was to provide teachers with the learning experiences necessary to begin to incorporate antiracism practices into their classrooms and curriculum,” Jolin said. 

The second strand focused on the experiences of participants in a sample of Grow-Your-Own Teacher programs, initiatives aimed at recruiting young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds into education professions.  

“Basically, these programs, such as EOU’s Oregon Teacher Pathway, recruit students who are in high school into teacher preparation programs such as the one we have here at EOU,” Jolin said.  

The team recruited participants from both programs to take part in focus group interviews. They also created a survey specifically for participants of the antiracism strand.  

“We had a set of goals that the EAC was hoping we’d achieve through the research…so we essentially used those goals to inform the types of questions that we asked in the focus groups and survey,” Jolin said.  

Results from their research were provided to the EAC as recommendations for future program improvement. For example, one interesting finding was a discrepancy in the degree to which teachers reported feeling confident in their ability to address and confront racist language and behavior with different people. 

“The survey data suggested differences in the amount of confidence that the participants had when it came to addressing antiracism with their students, compared to addressing antiracism issues with their colleagues. And so, one recommendation is that future courses should have more of a focus on teaching strategies that teachers can use to confront colleagues who might express racist ideas or engage in racist behaviors,” Jolin said. 

Jolin said he hopes the EOU community will better understand what Oregon educators are doing to combat issues like racism. 

The presentation takes place from 4 to 5 p.m., Feb. 10 in Ackerman Hall, Room 210. Proper face coverings are required for this in-person event. The event is free and open to the public.